AGTS counseling professors Dr. Angela Reid and Dr. Johan Mostert, with his wife, Andrea, led a group of 26 students and alum from AGTS to Joplin, Mo. on Memorial Day to minister to victims of the May 22 tornado that claimed the lives of over 150 people and damaged more than 8,000 buildings in the Joplin area. This was the third disaster-relief trip in a week for Dr. Reid, who lived in Joplin for four years while completing her undergraduate degree. Joplin is currently home to numerous AGTS students and alum.
The team from AGTS worked with two specific communities in Joplin. A group of 11 students met at College Heights Christian Church to serve tornado victims through outreach efforts at the church. A second team of 15 people served the community at Messenger College (MC). MC President Daniel Davis (AGTS M.Div. 2003) and wife Rhonda (AGTS M.A. 2009, MC vice president for academic affairs), along with the Pentecostal Church of God, are hosting a Red Cross-affiliated distribution center at the college gymnasium where tornado victims can receive free food, clothing, toiletries, toys and a variety of needed supplies.
(Above, left to right: Wayman Ming, AGTS D.Min. participant; Rhonda and Daniel Davis)
AGTS partnered with Joe and Teena Skiles, the National Youth Directors of the Pentecostal Church of God, as they sponsored an event at MC for Joplin children. Monday Fun Day included a free lunch for kids and families, ice cream, inflatables, face-painting, games, clowns and prizes. AGTS hosted an Art Tent staffed by counselors and counsling trainees. Escorted by an AGTS volunteer, children were invited to draw, paint, color, sculpt and build.
"AGTS affiliates are trained to recognize that play, itself, is therapeutic," said Dr. Reid. "During a crisis, kids lose the normalcy of everyday life and are constantly reminded of the disaster surrounding them. Adults in their lives are likely preoccupied with day to day survival and recovery. Thus, in these situations, play serves as a psychological respite—a mental break from the trauma—and allows them to just be kids again. And many times, it gives them a way to tell their stories."
Finally, the AGTS volunteers made themselves available to other members of the outreach crew. "Relief workers, themselves, are vulnerable to secondary trauma," Reid continued. "Many workers experienced the tornado firsthand and/or sustained significant losses. It was our goal to provide a therapeutic presence for both victims and workers as we work alongside them and allow them to tell their stories, share their experiences and offer consolation, hope and helping hands."
You can contribute to the Joplin relief efforts at ag.org.